March 23, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth Murals Inc. is in the process of collecting letters of support from across the community in its effort to get a Bible formerly owned by Scioto County native Branch Rickey brought home.
Bob Morton, President of Portsmouth Murals Inc., believes they may have recently received a letter of support recently that will help sway the decision.
So far, the group has received letters of support from the Portsmouth Public Library, Lee Lowenfish, author of the award-winning book Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman, State Rep. Terry Johnson, the Scioto County Commissioners and a grandson of the late Branch Rickey who shares his namesake, Branch Rickey III.
Rickey III writes, “Friends of mine in Portsmouth, Ohio have asked that I contact you relative to the ‘mystery bible’ that has come into your possession…I am connected to Branch Rickey by virtue of being his grandson, and having discussed this novel item with a number of other Rickey family members, I believe I can say that I am writing on behalf of our clan. This organization (Portsmouth Murals Inc.,) is quite probably the most enthusiastic group I can think of in terms of wanting to promote the Rickey legacy. It would certainly seem very natural that this volume be on display in the new Welcome Center in Portsmouth as they are advocating.”
When the commissioners endorsed the idea, chairman Mike Crabtree said, “A library in Sacramento, California has a Bible that was presented to Branch Rickey a number of years ago and they want to donate that to a charitable organization. They were thinking about donating it to Cooperstown. Branch Rickey is buried in Scioto County and his house still stands on Duck Run. His roots are here and they (The Murals) would like to have that Bible here as opposed to Cooperstown. There are tons of items there and it may get lost in the shuffle, they would like to have it here where it will be one of a few rather than one of many items.”
Morton believes the letter from Rickey could be the thing that sways the library to donate the Bible to the Murals.
“We think the endorsement from Branch Rickey III, that should leave out any question as to where the Bible should go,” Morton said.
According to published reports, the Bible contains 31 signatures, with a heading in blue ink that reads - “Pirates 1953.”
Born in Scioto County in 1881, Wesley Branch Rickey was many things: a school teacher, a college and professional baseball and football player, coach, lawyer and a soldier. He received three college degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.
In 1942, he moved to Brooklyn as president of the Dodgers and signed African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers in 1947.
That moment is the inspiration behind a movie being produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. The movie is titled “42” and is scheduled to be released in early April.
Morton said the library is expected to make a decision on where the Bible will be donated next month.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org